A bit of Friday feel good fluff for ya. Maybe just one of those slightly rambling, get stuff off my chest kind of posts. Why not, I’m in one of those give no fucks kind of places, and why have a blog if you can’t use it to share what’s on your mind 🙂
Body confidence, loving the skin you’re in, whichever catch phrase you like… I really do believe strongly in the idea behind it. Or should I say ideal. Because let’s face it, sometimes it can be bloody hard. So many factors fight against us in our self image! Our modern westernised paradigm of what an attractive and healthy woman should look like, firmly reinforced by media, advertising, and so many other subtle ways that we scarcely give a second thought to. In the last few decades, for the first time in history, society’s ideal body shape can not be attained through simply diet and genetics alone. Exercise and some version of strength training are needed to achieve that lean toned physique.
Slowly, ideas do seem to be changing. Real women, on the more “extreme” side of what is viewed as “normal” are challenging the wider public to alter their perception of beauty. The Vintage Doll, a pinup loving lady I greatly admire, doesn’t fit even the supposedly more body accepting pinup world definition of pinup. And she gets plenty of haters along with her legions of followers. Why? Because she is tiny. Naturally. And she is embracing her natural body and rockin’ a pinup look and looking fabulous doing it! Not all thin women starve themselves, why can’t we accept ALL natural body types, without slamming the smaller or larger? Of course, there is the fabulous Tess Holliday, who at a size 22 (which seems to be reported more in media than any other more interesting detail), has become a spokeswoman for a movement challenging traditional beauty ideals, the #effyourbeautystandards campaign, as well as a successful fashion model. Yet despite her beauty and success, many hiding behind the anonymity of the internet deem themselves worthy of making judgements on her health, and worthiness as a role model, saying she is encouraging obesity and ill health. This is the sort of thing that really gets my fire going! The only thing Tess, and the Vintage Doll, and so many other beautiful women out there are encouraging is LOVING YOURSELF JUST AS YOU ARE. Fat, thin, in between, you are beautiful.
Today, one of my friends posted a picture on social media, of a younger and slightly slimmer version of herself, in the spirit of inspiring herself to once again become that woman. And that made me think. How often do I do the same? Why do I look at women like Tess and think wow she’s beautiful… then hold myself up to different standards? Because once upon a time, I looked a certain way, means I CAN look that way, therefore I should, right? Hmm, wait. Why am I so hard on myself, when I admire beauty and bodies in others of so many diverse shapes and sizes?
Here is me, at age 25 (6 years ago). Pre-baby, pre many life experiences. Size 8, around 55kg. I had abs. My hip bones and ribs were just visible (I judged myself on how protruding my bones were). My boobs were perky. I thought I was fat, and constantly analysed every last little part of myself… and never saw the big picture.
Disturbingly, this was one of my more healthy phases. Although I was exercising a lot, I was eating well, although watching my diet carefully. In my early 20s (before digital!), I was even more obsessive about my size. I got down to 48kg, too light to give blood… and I’m 5’6. I counted every calorie that went into my body, and they were few. I had bruises from where my hip bones lay on my mattress at night. I was tired, but loved having a “strong, fit, figure”! I abused prescription diet pills and diuretics throughout my 20s, until I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. And my body image changed forever.
It wasn’t overnight, but I started to appreciate my body for the job it was doing, and the precious vessel it was carrying. I loved my big boobs and growing tummy, as I loved the daughter I was growing. After I gave birth, I looked at myself in the shower and was horrified! I still looked 6 months pregnant! Fast forward a few months and being overwhelmed with new motherhood overshadowed the issues I had with my newly slightly squishy body. After a year, thank to genetics and breastfeeding, I was back to my pre-baby figure. Different, but still me.
My daughter is now 5. For several years after her birth, I maintained a very healthy and stable weight, with little effort. I felt invincible. The saggy boobs, wrinkles and bags under the eyes that came with motherhood could all be disguised. Then life hit me in the ass. I turned 30. I had a serious back injury which greatly limited physical activity for over a year. My depression, which I’ve struggled with since I hit my teens, reared it’s ugly head.
Suddenly it seemed, I was “putting on weight””. And it didn’t just fall off when I took notice and stopped eating a huge bowl of ice cream and 3 beers and a piece of butter toast after dinner like I was used to! It stuck. I had to buy a whole new wardrobe. I struggled with my self image. I looked at what I used to look like, and beat myself up inside.
It was when I became more involved with the vintage, pinup, and rockabilly scene I started to see myself in a new light. The vintage styles I admired and only wore some of the time, even though I had been collected vintage since I was a teen, looked amazing on more curvier figures! Slowly, I have been re-examining both how I feel about myself, and how I view other women.
For a start, my “ideal” has shifted. I hope that this will become a cultural change! Instead of a thin, bare bones woman, I strive to be A WOMAN. A shifting weight, curves are awesome, but if you don’t have them that’s awesome too, possibly saggy boobs, maybe cellulite, beautiful smile kinda person. And I think that some padding, if you have it, is womanly and beautiful.
So PLEASE, go look at yourself in a mirror and give yourself a wink… and have that dessert and a glass of wine!
Miss Lorelei Louise xx